recording of Caleb Williams or Things As They Are by William Godwin. Read by Bev J. Stevens.
The novel describes the downfall of Ferdinando Falkland, a British squire, and his attempts to ruin and destroy the life of Caleb Williams, a poor but ambitious young man that Falkland hires as his personal secretary. Caleb accidentally discovers a terrible secret in his master's past. Though Caleb promises to be bound to silence, Falkland, irrationally attached (in Godwin's view) to ideas of social status and inborn virtue, cannot bear that his servant should possibly have power over him, and sets out to use various means--unfair trials, imprisonment, pursuit, to make sure that the information of which Caleb is the bearer will never be revealed.
Godwin described the book as "a series of adventures of flight and pursuit; the fugitive in perpetual apprehension of being overwhelmed with the worst calamities", so that Caleb Williams can be classified as an early thriller or mystery novel. (Summary from Wikipedia)
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M4B part 1 (204 mb)
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Richard in Alabama
February 12, 2014
Great novel, beautifully read.
Read at just the right pace, with a pleasant voice. The novel is interesting and entertaining. Some say it is the first detective novel. I would not call it one, though it does include criminals, victims, courts, and jails. Reminded me of Les Miserable and of Wilkie Collins' novel Basil. The novelist was Mary Shalley's father, I believe, though this is nothing like Frankenstein. It is a commentary on the classism and injustice of his day: tyranny is the word he uses over and over again. The more things change, the more things stay the same, and modern Americans (for example), will see many parallels to our day. It is also a story about how jealousy, paranoia, the desire for revenge, and the need to protect public image can consume a person. It's also about how victims sometimes become victimizers.